Werder Bremen were staring at relegation from the Bundesliga on Sunday after a 1-0 home defeat to Wolfsburg, while Union Berlin edged towards safety on a day that featured a renewed show of solidarity with the global protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Wout Weghorst headed home the decisive goal for Wolfsburg eight minutes before the end to push his team back up to sixth and into the Europa League spots.
The Dutch international’s 12th league goal of the season came just seconds after Xaver Schlager crashed a shot off the bar and leaves Werder, the team with the most seasons in the Bundesliga, facing the drop for the first time since 1980.
“It is very disappointing, but everything is still possible. We will give everything until the end,” said Werder captain Niklas Moisander to DAZN.
With four matches left, Florian Kohfeldt’s side are second-from-bottom, six points from safety and three from the relegation playoff place following back-to-back home defeats.
Werder are the league’s lowest scorers with 30 goals and have won just once at home all season, losing 11 times.
They travel to bottom side Paderborn next weekend in a match that could be decisive for their survival, with league leaders Bayern Munich the following weekend and relegation rivals Mainz, who are just outside the drop zone and won 2-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, three days later.
The match began after both starting elevens gathered around the centre circle at the Weser Stadium before dropping to one knee, echoing a gesture made by Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin players and Mainz midfielder Pierre Kunde Malong on Saturday.
Union Berlin and Schalke players then did the same before their 1-1 draw in the German capital.
Bundesliga takes knee
Favourites to go down in their first-ever Bundesliga season, Union are 14th on 32 points, seven ahead of Werder who occupy the final automatic relegation place, and four away from the playoff spot.
However, their Nigerian striker Anthony Ujah failed in his attempt to score and take the knee himself, as he had promised he would do on Saturday. Ujah did set up Robert Andrich’s neat 11th-minute opener.
Union are level on points with Augsburg, who snatched a late draw at home to Cologne thanks to Philipp Max’s 88th-minute equaliser, which came just three minutes after Anthony Modeste had fired the away side into the lead.
Cologne are 12th on 35 points after a draw which also saw Florian Niederlechner miss a first-half penalty for Augsburg.
Schalke, who grabbed a point at Union thanks to a fierce Jonjoe Kenny strike in the 28th minute, have failed to win in 12 league games but are 10th and are seven points from the European places.
“It’s a tough situation we’re in but it’s a good step to come away and get a point at a difficult place to come,” said English goalscorer Kenny.
With protests against police brutality and for racial equality taking place around the world on Sunday, the Bundesliga has become a stage for tributes to Floyd, a black American man who died last month at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
On Saturday, Dortmund players also wore messages on their T-shirts during their warm-up in honour of Floyd.
Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi wore the messages “no justice, no peace”, while midfielders Axel Witsel and Emre Can’s T-shirts displayed the words “black”, “white”, “yellow” and “red” crossed out, with the word “human” below.
Prior to their 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, Bayern Munich players warmed up in T-shirts bearing both the Black Lives Matter hashtag and the slogan of the club’s official “Reds Against Racism” campaign.